September 12, 2013
Boston Jobs Plan
Job creation is part of a holistic strategy -- which also includes transforming our schools to deliver an excellent education for every student, prioritizing housing priced for the middle market and our poorest residents, creating safe and healthy neighborhoods, and improving transportation options -- to improve Boston’s quality of life, strengthen our city’s economy, and keep people here.
The Boston economy is doing remarkably well in many respects. Home to many world-class resources, including our colleges, universities, hospitals, and laboratories, the Boston area is a global capital for innovation. Among U.S. metros, Boston is third in the country in venture capital investment. Boston-area inventors were granted an average of nearly 4,000 patents per year between 2007 and 2011, putting us in sixth place in the nation, according to the Brookings Institution. Our success is primarily due to the talented people who work and live here: Nearly 43 percent of Bostonians have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with roughly 28 percent of the U.S. as a whole. As a result of our economic strengths, Boston weathered the Great Recession better than much of the United States.
Yet our successes only tell one part of the story of the Boston economy. Over the past several generations, Boston -- mirroring the U.S. as a whole -- has grown more and more unequal. We are increasingly a city of the very rich and very poor where the bottom can fall out on our poorest residents at any time. It is harder and harder to maintain a strong middle in the city to bind us together.
Income inequality reached its highest point in 50 years in 2010, when Boston ranked as the third most unequal among the 50 largest cities in the country. There are too many Bostonians who can’t find jobs that allow them to make ends meet or can’t find stable employment at all. For workers at the low end of the income ladder, they have watched their wages stagnate. Despite all the change our city has seen in recent years, Boston’s poverty rate of 21.4 percent in 2012 was higher than it was in 2000 and 1990. And because Boston’s cost of living has outpaced the federal poverty level, the “‘officially’ poor are poorer today than they were 20 years ago,” according to the Boston Foundation. Our city will not be as strong as it can and should be if the income gap keeps widening.
As mayor, I will advance a jobs and economic agenda that strengthens our economy, creates jobs, and helps all Bostonians benefit from our economic advantages. My jobs and economic agenda includes four key areas:
- Strengthen Boston’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and support new and small businesses
- Support good jobs for all Bostonians
- Establish a hospitable environment for business
- Collaborate with regional partners on economic development
#1: Strengthen Boston’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and support new and small businesses
Support Boston’s innovation ecosystem. The innovation economy is critically important to Boston’s future. Economist Enrico Moretti reports that, for every new job created in the innovation economy, five more jobs are created at a variety of skill levels. Start-ups are key to job creation: A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the younger companies are, the more jobs they create. A separate study from the Ewing Marion Kauffman found that startups accounted for all net new job creation between 1977 and 2005. I am committed to making Boston an even better place to start and grow a company. As mayor I will regularly come together with innovation and business leaders to hear directly from them, and I will work them to recruit more entrepreneurs and start-ups to Boston.
Address the high commercial rents that make it difficult for startups to find affordable space. MassChallenge and dozens of other accelerators in the region give entrepreneurs free or discounted space when their companies are starting up. In an expensive city, office space becomes one of the biggest costs when entrepreneurs seek to expand. With high commercial rents in Kendall Square and the Seaport District, young, growing businesses need to be able to find lower cost, suitable locations to expand. We should create mixed-use innovation hubs around transit stations in other parts of the city. We should also link incubators like Crop Circle -- which works with culinary businesses -- to the city’s Main Streets program, to help entrepreneurs find vacant storefronts when they are ready to move into their own locations. And for businesses that want to participate in the Main Streets ReStore program in order to make signage and storefront improvements, the city will create a loan fund to pay upfront costs. The business would then repay the city. Today, business owners need upfront money to finance improvements.
Help new and small businesses access the capital they need to expand. Whether it’s a Main Streets business that needs a microloan to purchase equipment or inventory or a start-up that needs funding to move to its next growth phase, access to capital is a critically important issue for new and small businesses. I will work with community banks and financial institutions to develop a Made-in-Boston venture capital firm, similar to what the Boston Community Venture Fund does throughout the Northeast. I will work with state partners like the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation; nonprofits like Accion; our city’s cutting edge community development corporations; our Main Streets programs; NextStreet; and our lending institutions to make sure that we have a full, robust spectrum of financing options available to entrepreneurs who are ready to start a business or to business owners who ready to take their businesses to the next level.
Help new and small businesses to become suppliers to larger companies and institutions in Boston. I will launch a “Buy Boston” program aimed at helping Boston’s new and small businesses find new markets for their products and services among the Boston area’s many large companies and institutions. Seventy percent of small businesses dramatically increase their employment and revenues after becoming suppliers to large firms.
Help all businesses compete on a level playing field. In 2012, I held a hearing with Councilor Ayanna Pressley to reform the payment and bidding process for city contracts so that businesses owned by women and people of color can compete on a level playing ﬁeld. As mayor, I will also develop a program to connect general contractors with diverse subcontractors and to create a database of such businesses.
#2. Support good jobs for all Bostonians
Promote workforce development targeted at middle-skill jobs. Middle-skill jobs -- which require more than a high school education but less than a four-year college degree -- account for roughly two out of every five jobs in Massachusetts, and will continue to form a key part of our jobs market. These jobs often offer good pay and benefits in fields like healthcare, skilled trades, and the green economy. By partnering with employers, colleges, unions, and critical nonprofits like the Boston Private Industry council, we can develop career pipelines that prepare Bostonians for middle-skill jobs. Ultimately, every Bostonian should have access to at least two years of education after completing high school.
Make our high schools Hubs of Opportunity. Earlier this year I unveiled my Hubs of Opportunity proposal, which calls for each Boston high school to have at least three major partnerships: at least one with a college or university; at least one with a private sector employer (including medical institutions and non-profits); and at least one with a trade union or community-based organization. Each high school would work with its partners to develop a college pathway and a vocational pathway focused on a specific industry or academic field. The partners would help develop curriculum, provide internships to students, offer resources and people to assist teachers in implementing the curriculum, and allow the use of their facilities for learning. Read more about Hubs of Opportunity here.
Enforce the Boston Residents Jobs Policy. The BRJP aims to improve job opportunities for Boston residents, workers of color, and women on construction projects receiving funding from the city. I will strengthen and enforce the BRJP.
Advocate for an increase in the state minimum wage. The minimum wage in Massachusetts, now $8 per hour, has lost much of its purchasing power over the last several decades, and it has not been raised in five years. I will work with the Boston delegation to the State House to push for a much-needed minimum wage increase.
Create green jobs by seizing the economic opportunity in responding to climate change. For generations, we have been reliant on fuels like petroleum, coal, and natural gas that are not found nearby. In the clean energy economy, the work of insulating homes, putting solar panels on homes and schools, and recycling creates jobs that can’t be outsourced to another state, region or country. I have outlined a series of environmental goals that will help create good-paying green jobs for Bostonians. Read more about those goals here.
#3. Establish a hospitable environment for business
Lead a culture of customer service at City Hall. Boston’s permitting and licensing processes are needlessly complex, opaque, and time-consuming. We need a user-friendly City Hall that makes permits, licenses and city services available online and treats residents and business owners like customers walking into an Apple Store. We should have a completely transparent city government focused on an inclusive approach to problem solving. I will lead a culture of customer service at City Hall that removes bureaucratic red tape and prioritizes user-friendly services for residents and businesses.
Advocate for repeal of the recently-enacted software sales tax. Given the critical importance of the innovation economy to the future of our city and state, the software sales tax is not the right way to fund much-needed improvements to our public transportation system. It threatens to undermine growth in our innovation economy. I will work with the Boston delegation to the State House to push for repeal of the tax.
Attract and retain talented workers. Our region’s talented workforce is the primary factor behind the success of our innovation economy. Keeping talented young people here -- when it’s time for them to start a job, start a business, or start a family -- will be one of my top priorities. We need to bring down the cost of housing with a real middle-market housing strategy driven from a thoughtful plan. We need to extend the MBTA’s service hours for young people who work late or want to enjoy a night on the town. It needs to be up to us -- not the state -- to control liquor licenses in Boston, because it harms our economic potential and makes our city less lively when restaurateurs can’t open new restaurants because they can’t get a license. Young people want to live in a fun, vibrant city that is rich in arts, cultural, and recreational opportunities. If we don’t open our city up more, we will lose out to other places.
#4. Collaborate with regional partners on trade, tourism, and economic development
Maintain open lines of communication with leaders throughout Greater Boston. Fairfax County, Virginia, recently opened an office in Boston to attract companies to the county. This is both a sign of Boston’s economic success and a reminder that we face tough competition for talented workers, innovative companies, and investment dollars from other regions of the U.S. and other cities around the world. With the Boston area’s world-class universities and hospitals, with its leading financial services firms and cutting-edge biotech and high-tech companies, and with its creative people, we can compete with any place in the world, but through enhanced regional communication and collaboration, we can focus our efforts on the strategies that are most likely to strengthen our regional economy for the long term.
Create a Trade and Tourism office, and task it to work closely with other cities and towns in the Boston area. Right now, Boston combines tourism and arts functions into one office -- the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events. I will separate this office into independent functions. A stand-alone arts office would be able to focus its efforts entirely on cultivating a thriving arts community in Boston, while the marketing office could focus on trade, tourism, and economic development and work with partners in our region to attract businesses, investment, students, and visitors.
Supporting Boston Businesses Owned by Women and People of Color
We are a stronger city for our diversity, but we face daunting equity gaps that threaten to undermine our future. On key measures like poverty, unemployment, and median household income, we continue to face disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender. We can do better. We can improve economic opportunities for all Bostonians, no matter their background or where they live.
My Boston Jobs Plan aims to strengthen our economy, create jobs, eradicate inequities, and help all Bostonians benefit from our economic opportunities. A focus of my plan is supporting new and small businesses that are such an important part of our jobs engine. But to make sure that small businesses operate on a level playing field, we need to support businesses owned by women and people of color. As the table below shows, women and people of color are underrepresented in the ranks of business owners.
|Firms||Percent of Total||Population||Percent of Total|
|Black-owned firms||11.7%||Black or African American||24.4%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Firm data from 2007; population data from 2010 decennial Census.
We need to look closely at the lack of opportunity among women business owners and business owners of color, and then strengthen opportunities for women and people of color to open new businesses here in Boston or to help existing businesses grow. Specifically:
- I will commission a new Business Disparities Study, which would serve both to call attention to the lack of opportunity among women and people of color and act as catalyst to change existing regulations that restrict opportunity for businesses owned by women and people of color.
- I will prioritize joint venture bidding in which large companies join businesses owned by women and people of color to bid on city contracts. I’ve supported efforts to increase the awarding of city contracts to businesses owned by women and people of color. In 2012, I co-sponsored a hearing with Ayanna Pressley to reform the payment and bidding process for city contracts so these businesses can compete on a level playing ﬁeld. We need to go further.
- I will work to eliminate barriers to entry that prevent women and people of color from opening a new business or growing an existing business. I will review and alter bonding requirements that prevent small businesses from bidding on city contracts, as other cities have done. It needs to be up to the city -- not the state -- to control liquor licenses in Boston, because the current system restricts opportunities for restaurateurs who want to start restaurants in our neighborhoods, and this in turn hurts the economic potential and vibrancy of local business districts. Finally, we need to reform licensing and permitting processes that are needlessly complex, opaque, and time-consuming for small business owners.
- A “Buy Boston” campaign would encourage large institutions and employers to purchase goods and services from locally-owned businesses. Such a campaign would actively market the dynamic and innovative small suppliers that are locally owned in neighborhoods across the city, with a particular focus on businesses owned by women and people of color. For example, we should connect universities and hospitals with businesses like caterers, florists, and cleaning companies located in our neighborhoods.
- To bring more of the benefits of our innovation economy into our neighborhoods, I will push for the creation of a Roxbury Entrepreneurship Center that, like MassChallenge, would give space to start-up companies and provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
- Capital to finance inventory, equipment, expansion, and other needs is critically important for new and small businesses, and we need to make sure that qualified business owners are aware of their financing options and able to access the capital they need. I will work with financial partners like Boston Community Capital, the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, Accion, NextStreet, and our community development corporations and Main Streets program to develop a Made-in-Boston venture capital firm and to make sure that we have a full, robust spectrum of financing options available to entrepreneurs and small business owners. We should also make sure that the city’s bank funds are reinvested in our community, including local small businesses. City Councilor Felix Arroyo led the effort to pass an “Invest in Boston” ordinance in September 2013, which I was proud to support. As mayor, I’ll make sure it’s enforced.
- Local business owners ought to have robust opportunities for management training, mentorship, and networking. City government can play an important role as a convener, like Mayor Menino’s “Women on Main” initiative to better connect the city’s women business owners. As mayor, I will reach out to organizations like the Center for Women and Enterprise, The Partnership, the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association, and the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council to promote mentorship and networking opportunities for business owners and professionals who are women or people of color.
Proposal for a Law Enforcement Career Pathway at Madison Park High
To increase diversity throughout the ranks of the Boston Police Department, I have proposed reviving and funding the Boston Police Cadet Program and linking it to a new law enforcement career pathway at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. This pathway would draw talented young people from every corner of the city so that we are identifying and training future police officers who know our communities inside and out.
The creation of a law enforcement vocational pathway at Madison Park would not only increase diversity in the BPD, it would also prepare young people to become effective police officers trained to forge stronger connections between residents and the BPD. Community policing built on trust is one component of my comprehensive plan to improve public safety.
This proposal is an example of how we can connect Boston Public School students with opportunities for higher education and jobs. Read more about the proposal here.